Broadcast of The Today Show from Laos

Where in the World is Matt Lauer? Where else, Laos (click) [to watch slide show on right hand side], TODAY’s Matt Lauer takes a quick tour of Vientiane, the historic capital of Laos, the latest stop on his 2008 “Where in the World is Matt Lauer?” tour. One of my co-workers learned a thing or two about Laos, actually it’s Lao, so she said, and the Today Show this morning is broadcasted from Laos, that is so cool.

The land of Laos: Affordable and undiscovered, by Peter Greenberg, contributor

Laos is a true magical mystery tour. Few Americans visit. Fewer understand it. However, more and more savvy travelers are slowly discovering this small country.

Not too long ago, Vietnam was like this — before diplomatic relations with the U.S. were restored in the 1990s. The same could be said for Cambodia. Both Vietnam and Cambodia have recently exploded as tourist destinations.

And now it’s this former kingdom’s time to enter as a preferred destination in Asia. Ten years ago it was a backwater country, still trying to recover from its own 1975 revolution which ended a 600 year-old monarchy.

The government — slowly but surely — has opened the doors to the outside world. And the world is curious to see what is there.

Laos is a landlocked country between Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma and China. It’s lifeline is the Mekong River, which forms a large part of Laos’ western border with Thailand. Centuries ago, it was the Kingdom of Lan Xang, or Land of a Million Elephants.

On the surface, little has changed. Laos is still a farming country specializing in rice. The official language is Lao, but English is widely understood in the cities.

The best part about traveling to Laos is that it’s affordable, but not overrun with tourists. But word has spread about Luang Prabang “the Shangri-La of Southeast Asia,” so it’s more developed and filled with backpackers and vacationers. This 700-year-old town can get very crowded, and it is quickly transforming into a more structured, organized tourist destination. But not all travelers make it to the current capital city of Vientiane; southern Laos is practically undiscovered so you’ll find even fewer crowds and better deals in places like Pakse.

Screen shots updated 5/1/2008:


  1. Great! I am so glad that you have done this. I am from Laos, was born and raised there. I also went to college in Vientiane. National University of Laos, I majored in Architecture and Civil Engineering. I graduated in ’87. I left Laos in ’88.
    I have not had a chance to visit Laos yet since I left. I am planning to take my family to visit Laos next year, but will happen or not, I have to see how my feeling and schedule are…
    I had been to Louanphabang for few times. I spent most of my adult life in Vientiane. My older sister and her family still live there…
    Every thing is getting better there since Soviet Union collapsed.

    Respectfully, Jerry Vasavong

  2. Hi Jerry Vasavong, thanks for the visit. I left Laos when I was only about 5 or 6 years old, so I don’t have much memory of the country but blogging about Laos helps put things in perspective for me, and I’m hoping to be able to go back and visit soon. This makes it twice as nice that Matt Lauer of the Today Show visited Vientiane and not the Luang Prabang that is on the spotlight all the time; it is such a good show and he presented Laos well, his coverage on the beautiful patterns of Lao textiles (Lao silk) is something to be proud of, I’m very fascinated with how it is done and hope to see it in person one day.

    I hope you get to bring your family back to visit Laos soon, you can make it happen but just have to move your schedule around because in a couple of years, I’m expecting Laos to catch up with the rest of the world. Darly at has posted all the clips for us to watch.

  3. I’m glad you got this down on your blog Ginger. I was finally able to watch some of the broadcast and really enjoyed it.

    Matt did a good job, he really put an effort into learning a few Lao phrases too.

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